Visit to East Sussex

Posted on Friday 18th July 2014

St Michael and All Angels, Berwick

Our visit to East Sussex focussing on 20th century British art took in an interesting and varied group of different museums and galleries. On our way south we stopped at Saffron Walden for lunch and a visit to the Fry Art Gallery. This volunteer-run Gallery houses a remarkable collection of works by artists working at Great Bardfield and in North East Essex: especially Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, John Aldridge, Michael Rothenstein among others.

After the night at Brighton we arrived at Charleston, the farmhouse taken over by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant which became the artistic hub for the Bloomsbury Group. We were given privileged tours by expert guides and entered fully into its miraculously-preserved atmosphere. Nearby we took the chance to see the church of St Michael and All Angels,Berwick, with its murals by the Bloomsbury artists painted during the Second World War.

After lunch we drove on to the charming village of Ditchling - an extraordinary artists’ colony for over 100 years. A walking tour took in many sights, not least Frank Brangwyn’s studio.The sleek and newly rebuilt museum, short-listed as Museum of the Year, provided displays of Eric Gill and fellow artists from the Guild of St Dominic and St George, Edward Johnson, David Jones and others.

Next day we were treated to a lively tour of the little-known 20th century paintings at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery from Alexandra Loske before setting off home via the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery at Bedford. As well admiring its many treasures here we found the extensive collections bequeathed by Edward Bawden, so rounding off our tour as in a circle.